Well after some research I am able to tell you that the first Lions Club of Jersey Swimarathon took place in 1972 and has been held every year since then. The concept was the brain-child of a fundraising committee led by the then Lion John Abraham. They were looking for something as potentially effective as the Jersey World Aid Walks which the public had taken to their hearts and soles (of their feet!) and, in an island surrounded by the sea, sponsored swimming was a natural. With the ready co-operation of the Jersey Swimming Club under the presidency of the late Harold Michel and the then Fort Regent chief executive Duncan Gibson, the Swimarathon at Fort Regent Pool was born. In those early days it was actually called the “Swimathon” but common usage soon dictated that it should become the Swimarathon.
The first Swimarathon lasted two days and raised just over £4,000 a considerable sum in those times. Then as now swimmers swam in turn for 55 minutes although most were sponsored per lap rather than by donation. When, in 1973, the sum raised was £15,000 the Lions recognised they were on to a winner. And a winner it proved to be and a world-beater, being featured for several years in the Guinness Books of Records for the greatest amount of money raised from sponsored swimming at a single event.
To date the Swimarathon has raised more than three million pounds for charity, most of which has been spent in the Island.
Moneys from the Swimarathon and other fund-raisers have been used for building an indoor swimming pool for the handicapped, a day care centre for children, a day car centre for the elderly, establishing a hospital radio service and supporting many other local and international charities including major donations to Channel Islands Air Search which was founded by the Lions Club of Guernsey.
Once of the major beneficiaries of funds raised by swimmers has been the Lions’ own project of the Maison Des Landes Hotel for the Handicapped which was adopted by the Lions as a major project for their fund-raising as long ago as 1965. Today the hotel offers disabled visitors to Jersey the unique opportunity to enjoy a holiday just as much as anyone else. In addition, thanks to the generosity of the swimmers and their team sponsors, each year the Lions offer up to three weeks free holidays to local residents who might, for whatever reason, not be able to enjoy a break in a hotel in any other circumstances. This is just one way that the Lions ensure that moneys raised in the local community benefit those less fortunate in it.
When it was first mooted, it was thought that the novelty of sponsored swimming would wear off within a few years. That the Swimarathon has not only continued to involve hundreds of teams, thousands of swimmers and tens of thousands of sponsors is a tribute to the generosity of the people of Jersey who are always ready to dip into their pockets and every February or March dip into the waters of Fort Regent, and now Les Quennevais Pool.
The Swimarathon is again being sponsored by RBC Wealth Management.
In 2014 the event raised £127,525, let’s see if 2015 can top this!
For 2015 the funds raised will be divided between specific causes with 25% of the money raised going to 15 charities offering activities for people with disabilities, 50% will provide respite holidays for local people and supporting general community service projects with the remaining 25% donated to Channel Islands Air Search, a charity with whom the Lions Clubs of Jersey and Guernsey have always been closely associated.
Member since: 9th July 2012
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